Section 1983 Court Decisions

Here are various section 1983 court decisions and briefs from cases which I have followed and/or had a role in the trial or appeal.

A 2-1 decision denying qualified immunity to San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey for his former strip search policy.  Opinion by Judge Sidney R. Thomas, concurrence by Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, and dissent by Judge Richard C. Tallman.  That each judge wrote separately shows the complexity and close nature of the issue.  The concurrence by Judge Ikuta is noteworthy, as I describe in my analysis posted shortly after the decision on this blog.

An unpublished opinion affirming summary judgment in favor of the City in the “fajitagate” San Francisco Police Department case.  Plaintiffs engaged in an altercation with three off-duty police officers in front of a bar.  They claimed that the City was liable for their injuries because of a purported policy of failing to discipline officers for improper use of force while on duty.  The district court and Ninth Circuit rejected this novel liability theory.

The 11th Circuit in a 12-1 en banc decision breaks ranks with almost three decades of strip search caselaw holding that individual reasonable suspicion is necessary for any jail strip search. The Atlanta-based federal appellate court overruled its earlier cases by holding that under the Supreme Court decision in Bell v. Wolfish, the Fulton County Jail could strip search all prisoners as part of a routine booking procedure before the prisoner was placed in the general jail population. Such searches are lawful under the Fourth Amendment, the court ruled, based on the unique and serious security concerns in detention facilities.

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